Jennifer Hudson Says She Related to Aretha Franklin as a 'Person Who Has Suffered a Lot of Loss'

"I don't think I would have been able to dig that deep or connect in a way had I not been through things myself," Hudson told InStyle

Jennifer Hudson InStyle
Jennifer Hudson for InStyle. Photo: Chrisean Rose

Jennifer Hudson is reflecting on how relating to Aretha Franklin's life story helped her portray the soul legend in the upcoming biopic Respect.

Speaking with InStyle for the magazine's August cover story, the actress and singer admits of taking on the role of Franklin, "As an actor, you have to go to your own real places."

"I don't think I would have been able to dig that deep or connect in a way had I not been through things myself," said Hudson, 39.

While the star didn't touch on specifics, there are scenes in Respect that deal heavily with grief and pain, including the death of Franklin's mother Barbara (Audra McDonald) and the late singer's abusive relationship with her first husband, Ted White (Marlon Wayans).

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jennifer hudson, aretha franklin
Jennifer Hudson (L); Aretha Franklin. Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic; Michael Stewart/WireImage
Jennifer Hudson InStyle
Jennifer Hudson for InStyle. Chrisean Rose

For Hudson, personal losses have included that of her mother Darnell Donerson and brother Jason, who were found fatally shot in 2008, inside the house she grew up in on Chicago's South Side.

"In that moment, it clicked with me like, 'Is this what she saw in me?' " the American Idol alum went on of her musings about why Franklin wanted her on board. "Because we parallel in so many ways through our life stories and the things we've been through and experienced."

"I know, as a person who has suffered a lot of loss, I don't like having to talk to people who haven't lost anything," Hudson added.

Quantrell D. Colbert/Metro Goldwyn Meyer Pictures

RELATED VIDEO: Oscar Winner Jennifer Hudson Reveals the First Thing Aretha Franklin Said to Her When They Met

Respect, out next month, is a project 15 years in the making — and Hudson told InStyle that she was initially "terrified" to meet Franklin, who died in 2018 of pancreatic cancer at age 76, considering the latter's reputation.

"Aretha said, 'What? Are you shy or something?' I said, 'Well, I am talking to the Queen of Soul!' " the Oscar winner recalled.

"She said, 'Jennifer, you're going to do this,' " Hudson added of Franklin's gusto about the tole. "I'm like, 'Well, I'll do it if she says I can do it, if she thinks I can.' That's Ms. Franklin!"

Respect premieres in theaters Aug. 13, with the soundtrack being released on the same day.

Jennifer Hudson's full interview will be featured in InStyle's August issue, on newsstands Friday.

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